Pregnancy & Chiropractic: The Many Benefits of Prenatal Chiropractic Care
Congratulations! You’re having a baby! Having a baby is one of the most powerful, physically altering, and rewarding accomplishments a woman can experience. At no other time in a human’s life are there more critical and influential developments then in the prenatal and perinatal period.
You might have noticed that chiropractic care is becoming an important part of the prenatal period for many pregnant women. Chiropractors have actually cared for pregnant women for many years as a healthy and safe alternative to medication. Also, with the increased interest in natural birthing, and in an effort to avoid having a C-section, a growing number of mothers have incorporated chiropractic into their prenatal care. In a study from the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, a clinic trial of 168 pregnant women compared standard obstetrics care to a multi-disciplinary musculoskeletal and obstetrics management (MOM). The MOM group had visits with a chiropractic specialist who provided manual therapy, stabilization exercises, and patient education as well as routine obstetrical care. The results, the MOM group showed a significant reduction in their disability questionnaire, personal pain history questionnaire, pain during physical tests, and numerical pain rating scale.
When Should I See My Chiropractor if I’m Pregnant?
It is encouraged to see your chiropractor throughout every stage of your pregnancy journey. Early and adequate prenatal care can help empower you to learn what to expect throughout your current and/or future pregnancies. Your chiropractor can help you gain an understanding of the normal physical changes that can occur during your pregnancy and can improve the chances of a healthy pregnancy, labor, and birth.
In a study from the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, women who received chiropractic care from at least the tenth week of pregnancy on through delivery had shorter labor times than national averages. First-time mothers had 24% shorter labor, while those who had previously borne children had 39% shorter labor. That study also indicated that the women reported less back pain as a result of their chiropractic care ranging from 25% to 100%.
The Webster Technique
You have probably heard about the Webster Technique — the chiropractic technique used in pregnancy to help optimize the mother’s pelvic function. It was featured on the Learning Channel’s hit series “A Baby Story” as well as you may have read about it in Mothering Magazine and Midwifery Today. The Webster Technique utilizes specific sacral analysis and correction which could improve fetal presentation and positioning at birth. According to the text, Pediatric Chiropractic, five main outcomes are seen when using this technique properly:
1. Pelvic biomechanical function of ligaments and muscles is improved when pelvis balance is achieved
2. Normal tone is restored to the smooth muscles alleviating tension of the uterosacral and round ligaments
3. Proprioception activity, sensory information that contributes to the sense of position of self and movement, is enhanced
4. Tendon, muscle, and ligamentous tension is alleviated
5. Parasympathetic function (nervous system) is strengthened
Improved circulation, reduction of “pregnancy” pains, and enhanced nerve function arising from the brain to the spinal cord are also key results when using this technique. This, in turn, enhances the blood and nerves supply to internal organs, blood vessels, and glands to both mother and baby.
Changes During Pregnancy
To understand further how chiropractic care can contribute to a healthier birth for both baby and mom, it is important to check a mother’s biomechanics throughout pregnancy.
Throughout pregnancy, a women’s body will go through some miraculous changes. As the uterus size increases, so will the weight of the baby and placenta. To compensate for these changes, the mother’s center of gravity shifts outward and her postural compensations respond accordingly. In addition, the ligament laxity necessary for birthing adds to instability in all of her joints, including her spine and pelvis.
The first trimester of pregnancy is marked by an invisible, yet amazing, transformation. Hormones trigger your body to begin nourishing the fetus even before tests and a physical exam can confirm the pregnancy. In this stage, nausea, hormonal changes, and possibly the beginning of weight gain can occur. Though each pregnancy is different, knowing what physical and emotional changes to expect during the first trimester and beyond can help you face the months ahead with confidence! In this stage, it is important to talk to your chiropractor about any past traumas or health history (i.e. low back issues, rib dysfunction, nutritional deficiencies, high blood pressure) as these problems may worsen as pregnancy progresses and more stress is added to the body.
The second trimester of pregnancy often brings a renewed sense of pregnancy. During this trimester is when moms usually start to notice more physical changes occurring. The uterus begins to grow and a “baby belly” will begin to become more noticeable. In this stage, progression differs greatly between women, so make sure you speak with your chiropractor about proper exercises, stretching routine, footwear, lifting, and proper ergonomics in the workplace to avoid pain and injury.
The third trimester of pregnancy can be physically and emotionally challenging. In this trimester, the mother’s biomechanics are increasingly challenged and the baby’s size and position might make it hard to get comfortable throughout the day as well as at night. As the baby continues to gain weight, pregnancy hormones relax the joints between the bones in your pelvic area which can increase pressure on the low back, mid back, knees, and ankles. During this phase of pregnancy, it is vital to improving the function of the pelvis in order for safer and easier birth outcomes.
Maternal nutrition has a profound effect on all aspects of fetal development. Not only does nutrition play a part in the development of the baby, but it also gives way to the proper development of the placenta, maternal organs, as well as helps with the physiological changes the body goes through throughout pregnancy. Pregnant and nursing women require a greater amount of every vitamin and mineral than in a prepregnant stage.
Prenatal Chiropractic care is essential for pregnant mothers. It stimulates the nervous system to enable proper functioning of reproductive organs, thus supporting the needs of both the mother and baby throughout pregnancy and during delivery.
Dr. Christina Wellner has specialized training in the Webster Technique for pregnant women as well as host educational seminars around the area about how chiropractic can play an important part in a happy, healthy pregnancy. For questions, additional information, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Christina Wellner at Chantilly Chiropractic Center, please call (703) 378-2698 or email her at [email protected]. Seminar class schedule can be found here.
Dr. Wellner, a Chiropractor at Chantilly Chiropractic Center, received her Doctorate of Chiropractic Degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic and is the recipient of the James Buerkle Memorial Award for leadership, service, and commitment to Palmer College and the chiropractic profession. As a physician, she strongly believes in patient education and empowering patients and their families to improve the quality of their lives through a multidisciplinary approach. Dr. Wellner works with local OBGYN offices, general practitioners, orthopedic doctors, neurologists, personal trainers, and other healthcare professionals to administer optimal care to her patients.
For her pediatric patients, Dr. Wellner believes in allowing a child’s natural healing abilities to shine through by using a combination of gentle spinal adjustments and nutritional/lifestyle recommendations. In her quest to educate others about the role of chiropractic in children’s health care, Dr. Wellner hosts classes and lectures in Northern Virginia about the importance of a healthy lifestyle for expectant mothers, babies, and families. Dr. Wellner is also a member of the Unified Virginia Chiropractic Association, American Chiropractic Association, Dulles Chamber of Commerce and an active member of the Dulles Chamber Health and Wellness Committee as well as the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Christina Wellner, please call (703) 378-2698 or email her at [email protected]. Chantilly Chiropractic Center is located at 3910 Centreville Rd., Ste. 202, Chantilly, VA 20151. Connect: Online | Facebook | (703) 378-2698.
Wang SM, Dezinno P, Maranets I, Berman MR, Caldwell-Andrews AA, Kain ZN. Low back pain during pregnancy: prevalence, risk factors and outcomes. Obstet Gynecol 2004;104: 65-70.
George, James, DC, Clayton Skaggs, DC, Paul Thompson, Ph.D., Michael Nelson, MD, Ph.D., Jeffrey Gavard, Ph.D., and Gilad Gross, MD. “A Randomized Controlled Trial Comparing a Multimodal Intervention and Standard Obstetrics Care for Low Back and Pelvic Pain in Pregnancy.” www.ajog.org. The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 22 Oct. 2012. Web.
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“About the Webster Technique.” About the Webster Technique. The International Chiropractic Pediatric Association, n.d. Web. 2016.
Rosenberg, Stacey, DC. “An Expectant Parent’s Guide to Chiropractic.” Pathways (2008): n.icpa4kids.org. Web.
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“Chiropractic Care During Pregnancy: Safety and Benefits.” American Pregnancy Association. 01 Sept. 2016. Web.
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J. Fallon, “The Effect of Chiropractic Treatment on Pregnancy and Labor: A Comprehensive Study,” Abstract of the Proceedings of the 1991 World Federation of Chiropractic, Nov./Dec. 1992, Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, Vol. 15, No. 9, p. 614.
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